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During a private meeting of the Republican conference on Thursday, ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy from California reprimanded Florida’s Representative Matt Gaetz for attempting to cut him off mid-speech.

This tense exchange occurred amidst a prolonged, nearly four-hour discussion among House Republicans, who were grappling with internal divisions and seeking unity in their choice for Speaker. This challenge arose after Gaetz, along with a small faction of Republicans, sided with Democrats to depose McCarthy. Although the conference put forward Representative Jim Jordan from Ohio as a nominee, he was unable to clinch the position in two subsequent votes.

Participants characterized the meeting as highly charged.

An incident highlighted the tension: McCarthy, while addressing the attendees, directly referred to Gaetz, drawing an impromptu reaction from the latter, shared an insider. Gaetz rose to interject, but McCarthy swiftly quashed the interruption, sources recounted.

“Sit your ass down,” McCarthy retorted, leading to a brief verbal exchange between the two, said an informant. The situation almost escalated physically, with Representative Mike Bost from Illinois seemingly prepared to intervene aggressively.

However, McCarthy downplayed the confrontation with Gaetz.

“I was merely addressing the group when Matt Gaetz tried to butt in,” McCarthy explained. “I instructed him to take his seat.”

He continued, “I believe everyone present, possibly the entire nation, is exasperated with Matt Gaetz at this moment. It’s crucial to remember that it was Gaetz and his band of rebels, in alliance with the Democrats, who have plunged us into this predicament.”

Gaetz, on the other hand, believed McCarthy was giving him the floor.

“He can be quite spirited,” Gaetz observed about McCarthy. “As a lawyer, I’m trained to remain composed, engaging in debates without losing my temper, unlike someone whose craft requires more… heat.”